Rising Rates & Our Local Market

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How do interest rates impact our local Vermont real estate market? Good question considering that rates have jumped from 3% to 6% over the last few months!

Here are 3 insights about our local market based on our many years of experience in “all” market conditions:

1.     Buyers will adjust to the current mortgage rate. The most important factor for buyers is their “monthly payment” and their comfort level with that amount. We often hear, “I don’t want to be ‘house poor’” meaning that they want to be able to pay their mortgage and have discretionary funds. This may mean that they readjust their “purchase price” down to suit their household budget.

2.     Sellers may have fewer qualified buyers depending on their list price. We have seen more “cash buyers” over the last few years however we predict the new buyer pool will seek mortgage loans. This means that there will be fewer cash buyers in the market. Some properties will be impacted more than others.

3.     In any market there will always be people who need to sell and people who need to buy. Our local real estate market is driven by life circumstances rather than speculation. This means that our market will remain more stable than other parts of the country.

 Making the decision to buy or sell is always stressful and wrought with questions. If you want more information about the current market and how it applies to your situation reach out to see how we can help you!

5 Upgrades That Buyers Love

HGTV Smart Home 2022 in Wilmington, NC

HGTV Smart Home 2022 in Wilmington, NC

If you follow our blogs you know that Carolyn works with buyers and sellers in the Northwestern Vermont market. Buyers are “wowed” by certain features that may surprise you.

Here are our top 5 upgrades that buyers love:

  1. Trex or other types of composite decking – Previously this type of decking was a luxury item but now, due to the rising costs of pressure treated lumber, many houses are opting for composite decking. No more staining!
  2. Gas fireplace inserts – Nothing beats the smell of wood burning in a fireplace on a crisp Vermont evening, but the wood, ash, and family allergies sometimes puts a damper on this scene. Today’s updated inserts and realistic flames impress most buyers. No more chopping wood!
  3. Freshly sealed driveways – Vermont driveways take a beating. Snow, salt, sun, and the inevitable fading and cracking. A freshly sealed driveway upgrades your curb appeal instantly.
  4. Smart thermostats – Buyers love this energy efficient feature that you can control from anywhere with your phone, and helps reduce heating and cooling costs.
  5. Solar panels – Buyers get excited when they see solar panels for an alternative energy source. More people are driving electric vehicles in Vermont and they want to add charging stations to the system.

If you’ve been thinking about selling and want more information on any of these “wow” factor features, reach out! We will help you with everything – from the beginning to closing the deal.

Let It Snow! How Weather Effects the Real Estate Market

Snowy SpringWe are obsessed with the weather. When The Weaver Team works from home one of our favorites is The Weather Channel.  People often ask me, “Does it slow down in the winter?” Well, yes, in normal times. Then, they ask, “When is the best time for my property to go on the market?”

Today, April 19, 2022 we have scheduled a full day of showings for our newest listing. I asked Alexa if it was going to snow last night and she said, “there is no snow in the forecast.” Right now, 4” of snow and increasing rapidly. Our lilac tree split under the weight of the heavy, wet spring snow.

Still, we persevere.  The buyers and Realtors will show up to see the property. But, there will be snow, wet shoes, and wet coats to shed upon arrival. The boundary lines are hard to decipher amid a sea of white.

So, when is the best time? We like May 1st to minimize the chance of snow for photos, showings and other reasons. Who can resist a front porch with a fresh spring wreath and pots of colorful flowers? Ah, but that is still an aspiration here today. We would love to continue this blog but Carolyn needs to find her boots and winter coat for today’s showings.

Stay warm and dry out there, Spring will be here in a few weeks, we are certain!

If you want more information on the seasonality of real estate, reach out – we are always available to help with all of your Vermont real estate needs.

Winter Is Coming: Will The Hot Real Estate Market Cool Off?

pexels-jeffrey-czum-2501965Is the real estate market cooling off? No.

Will the shorter days and longer nights put a damper on buyer activity? No.

Will houses stay on the market for more than a day or two? No.

Will prices continue to rise? Looks that way.

Navigating the real estate market has been a challenge for the last few years. Multiple offers on properties. Many “cash, no contingency” offers are hard to beat for the average buyer who needs a mortgage loan and simply wants a home inspection. Houses that sold a few years ago show up on the market again with eye-popping prices.

The last quarter of 2021 shows no slowing of prices or buyer activity thus far. Low interest rates and low inventory continues to drive market activity. All price ranges are competitive. This may sound depressing for buyers but there is hope.

What do we predict for 2022? If you want to dip your toes into the fast moving waters of Chittenden County real estate, reach out. We have a track record of success for buyers as well as sellers. Our networking, relationships, and strategies guide our buyers to their goals.

We can’t wait to help you find your Home Sweet Vermont!

FAQ: Food Scraps, Compost, and Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law

pexels-eva-elijas-5503338We’re sure that Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law has brought up a lot of questions on composting. For some clarification, we read up on the subject on VSECU’s blog where Anne Bijur from the Waste Management and Prevention Division of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources shares information on composting. We asked Anne if we could share her most frequently asked questions and answers – read on for everything you need to know about composting in Vermont.

MECHANICS OF COMPOSTING & WHAT TO DO WITH MEAT & BONES

What types of leftovers can I compost? If you are composting at home, you can include any type of leftover that does not contain meat, fish, or fats or oils. The smell from these foods might attract animals. The law allows you to put these types of leftovers in the trash. If you bring your food scraps to a drop off site or transfer station, you can include all types of leftovers, even with meat or fish.

You said that meat scraps, chicken skin and bones are still okay to put in your trash—that is the first I’d heard of that. Is that specified in the legislation/law? Yes, the law allows residents who compost at home to put meat and bones in the trash.

We have been composting for years. The only items we don’t add to our compost pile are meat scraps/bones as we believe they will attract wildlife. Do we need to bring those wastes to our recycling station for composting? Since you compost at home, the law allows you to put these items in the trash or bring to your local transfer station or recycling drop-off.

I think the public needs very clear directions on what can be recycled and how, what foods can be composted, and how to maximize the effort to compost. How about some posters that give clear instructions? I realize that I have been doing some things incorrectly, so I’d like to know how and why. The Vermonters Guide to Recycling is a poster that outlines what can and cannot be recycled in Vermont. It can be accessed at VTrecycles.com.

We have this graphic of what constitutes food scraps and can be composted, but you should always check with your local composter to see what they accept as their specific guidelines may differ. To find compost guidelines for your area, ask your hauler or go to 802recycles.com to find your local waste management or disposal entity for more information.

What is meant by “a thick layer of browns?” Browns consist of dried leaves or grass, wood chips, sawdust, or shredded paper or cardboard. They are the carbon sources in your compost pile and are necessary for the microorganisms to survive and make compost from food scraps (also referred to as “the greens”).

Can you tell me what I can do with expired canned goods? Eat them! Most of the time these foods are still good to eat. Expiration dates are not federally regulated, apart from infant formula, and are simply the manufacturer’s suggestion for when the food is at peak quality. Open the canister and look at the food in question; smell it. If it looks and smells okay, give it a taste. If it tastes good, then eat it! You’ll save money by not throwing uneaten food away. Another strategy for avoiding this situation is to periodically look through your cupboard and fridge and move any foods that are close to expiration dates front and center. Then create a meal plan to use them up.

How can I combat fruit flies? The best way is to frequently empty your food scrap container so they aren’t attracted to your kitchen. If fruit flies are still able to find you, put some red wine or apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and add a few drops of liquid soap. The flies are attracted to the smell and will get trapped in the liquid. There are also other non-toxic home remedies you can search online.

Where do you keep scraps till you get to the dump? Here’s a great answer from a VSECU member: “Our family collects food scraps in large Ziplock bag(s) and stores them in our freezer to minimize smell. On Saturdays, we drop it off for free at our local transfer station.” You can also store food scraps in a five-gallon bucket with a lid in a garage, basement or shed until you can get to a drop off site.

DISCOURAGING ANIMALS FROM YOUR COMPOST PILE

I have been composting for years. Any tips for keeping animals away? (Small and large) To deter rodents, try installing half-inch hardware cloth (galvanized wire mesh) under and around your compost bin. You’ll have to move your bin in order to do this so best to do late fall when emptying out your compost bin before the winter. See designs for use with the Soil Saver in DEC’s Compost with Confidence guide. If you live in bear country, the first thing to do is take down bird feeders. Bears have a very acute sense of smell (just think about the size of their noses) and will travel miles to track down a food source. Next, make sure you are adding enough “browns” or carbon sources. Browns include dried leaves or grass, wood chips, sawdust, or shredded paper or cardboard. Every time you add food scraps to your pile, you should add a thick layer, a few inches deep, of browns. Each week, or more or less frequently depending on how many food scraps you generate, you need to turn your pile. This will speed up the composting process and reduce odors which is what attracts animals.

ACCESSIBILITY AND COST

I can’t afford to compost and have no idea how to do it. Composting at home can be inexpensive. To collect food scraps, you can use a recycled yogurt container or a simple large bowl. For a larger container, many stores or restaurants will give away their used five-gallon buckets. You can make your own compost bin out of wooden pallets, chicken wire, or an old trash barrel poked with holes or dig a hole in your yard and bury food scraps (this is referred to as pit or trench composting). There is more information on how to compost inexpensively in our guide, The Dirt on Compost. In addition, many Solid Waste Districts around Vermont offer free workshops on how to compost. You can find your local waste experts at 802recycles.com.

Composting food scraps is a great idea for restaurants, hospitals, schools, state legislatures and the like. However, it’s ridiculously impossible for many individuals, especially the elderly. How many families have time for this? Not all of us are retired, and if we are, for how many years can we keep this up? Composting does not have to take a lot of time. You already sort trash and recyclables so you will need one more receptacle to collect food scraps. If you don’t want to compost at home, there are many haulers who will pick up your food scraps. Here is a statewide list.

If you have mobility issues and need help transporting or carrying your waste, including food scraps, try contacting a neighbor or find someone on Front Porch Forum. Your local solid waste entity might also be able to help or have ideas relevant to your community. Find them at 802recycles.com.

WHERE DO THE FOOD SCRAPS GO AND IS ANYONE ELSE DOING THIS?

What happens to food waste that is either taken to transfer stations or picked up by haulers? Where does it go? Most food scraps are taken to one of more than 17 different certified compost facilities or farms in Vermont. Different haulers and transfer stations bring their food scraps to different locations, depending on the facilities in their part of the state. Contact your hauler or transfer station directly to find out where they bring your materials. You can view the list of compost facilities here.

Are other States doing the composting? Yes, there are other states with food scrap landfill bans but most of them ban the disposal of food scraps from large food scrap generators of 1-2 tons or more a week, like hospitals and grocery stores. These other states with landfill bans include Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, New York, Maryland, and New Jersey. Several cities have landfill bans including New York and Portland, Oregon.

Please speak to putting food scraps into a garbage disposal that feeds a private septic tank. We don’t advise people to put food scraps down the drain, even when the scraps are blended, as they can clog up the pipes because of the fats and oils. Most septic systems aren’t designed to handle the extra load which leads to more frequent pumping. Public sewer systems usually don’t want food scraps either. This handout explains it further.

COMPLIANCE

Is this law enforceable? Yes, however the staff of Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation does not go through individuals trash looking for food scraps but focuses on education and outreach to help Vermonters comply with the food scrap ban. We do conduct sporadic “Spot Checks” at waste facilities to make sure haulers are complying with solid waste laws. Once we can visit facilities, we also do outreach at schools and businesses to help with waste sorts, distribute handouts, and provide technical assistance.

METHANE GENERATED ELECTRICITY AT LANDFILLS

I am a member of an electric utility that makes electric power from methane generated by food scraps. How will the utility continue to generate this power if the methane is no longer created at the landfill due to the government ban on food waste? The short answer is that even with the complete landfill ban in place, there will still be other organic materials like painted wood and sewer sludge that end up in the landfill producing methane gas and older waste that will continue to produce some methane.

We try to ensure that materials are used at their highest and best value, which is why food scraps are better composted than landfilled. When food scraps are landfilled, once they give off methane (and contribute to leachate that also has to be managed), their value is gone. When food scraps are composted, their value is put back into the soil to grow food which is hopefully then composted and the value becomes part of a continuous cycle. This handout provides more information.

WHAT ABOUT INDOOR WORM COMPOSTING?

Here’s an answer from a VSECU member: “At our location we cannot safely compost outdoors because of bears! Now, we compost almost all of our food scraps with a worm composting system, indoors, no odors and no bears, and wonderful worm castings for a fertile garden. There is lots of information available in books and online (YouTube videos). The worms are pretty tolerant; you don’t have to have a fancy system.”

 

This article was used with permission from the author. See the original post here.

Where Have All The Vermont Houses Gone?

Essex neighborhoodVermont is small, our population hovers around 620,000. Yes, that’s the whole state – men, women, children. We have never had a housing “boom” like other states. Demand for housing has outstripped our supply over the last few years. In certain price ranges there are perhaps 40 – 50 buyers looking at the same house.

The housing shortage in Vermont is ongoing. History, regulation, geography, topography, economics, etc. all play a role in the current state of our housing stock. Even in a “normal” year people have a difficult time finding a house. In the not-so-distant past buyers could find 10 houses that would be on their list of potential abodes. Now, there are none. Zip. Zero. Nada. Or, okay, maybe one – but there are 20 showings and all contracts need to be submitted within 72 hours. This causes a frenzy. Houses are popping up on the internet and disappearing – all within a day.

Discouraging? Sure. Now the good news. We have, so far, helped all of our buyers find a home. Through it all — the shortage, the bidding wars, the crazy rush to get in – we have guided our clients through the process.

We are here for you too! Contact us to help you find and close on your new home.

The Weaver Team’s Favorite Things

Step aside Oprah, our list features everything Vermont and maybe even a little something Pennsylvania 😉

truffles_f07fab6a-5b1c-4d31-b181-87db93b711d4_1024x1024A Box of Chocolates. Our local favorite is Snowflake Chocolates. Everyone loves chocolate and this Jericho-based family run operation has never let us down. We love the traditional assortments and the truffles. The customer service is unparalleled. They ship or you can pick up your order curbside.

Tree Ornaments made in the U.S.A. With a nod to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, we are decking the halls with a custom ornament from Mayhem Metalz in Beaver Falls, PA.

Scented Candles. We only buy them at Willow House located in Shelburne, VT. This month we are burning a Balsam Fir candle. Our all-time favorite is Buttered Maple Syrup.

Warm Woolen Socks. Buy them at Danform Shoes. This is where we stock up on our favorite Darn Tough socks. The wool socks are made in Vermont and you can pick them up curbside.

52301-p-crock-and-tray-hero-w-lrgHandmade Stoneware Pottery. We love the glazes Bennington Potters offers, and their serving dishes and sets are perfect for anyone who enjoys entertaining and serving up a beautiful table spread.

Deliciously Sweet Cupcakes. With a plethora of flavors sure to please anyone’s palate, you cannot go wrong bringing some Superb Cupcakes to a party … or stashing some at home when you need a sweet pick me up.

Netflix original movie The Prom. We like it for Meryl Streep’s line “I’m from Zelienople Pennsylvania.” Jennie’s hometown!

Selling Your House This Winter? The Weaver Team Is Your “Winter Team!”

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. After all, we do live in the Northeast where winter means snow, ice, and cold weather. But, does it mean you will be miserable if you have to sell your house before April?

There’s a reason that most sellers wait until spring to put their houses on the market. Most sellers would rather not deal with salting and sanding walkways, plowing driveways, and gathering kids, dogs, boots, shoes, and mittens, to leave a warm, cozy house to accommodate a showing. Should you wait until the snow melts?

What if you have to sell? Don’t bother jumping online and googling “selling house in winter” or “should I wait until spring to sell my house” instead, follow our 3 steps:

You Need our “Winter Selling Strategy.” We both love the cold and snow. Get out a calendar and strategize with us. We know the ideal times to put your house on the market in any month.

Identify your goals and we will get it done. Need to be in another house by March? We will outline the process to get you there.

Don’t worry about winter showings. Because we list and sell houses in all types of weather we will share our tools, tricks, and tips to make it easy on your lifestyle and your household.

We look forward to helping you in any season. Don’t despair if you find yourself moving in the winter, we’re here to get you into your next home no matter what the weather.

3 Things That Happen in the Real Estate Market After Labor Day

four colourful houses

Photo by Jeffrey Czum on Pexels.com

Labor Day Weekend heralds the end of summer fun and vacations for most people. It’s back to school, back to business, and goodbye to the hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer. What does this mean for our local real estate market? There are 3 things that happen as the weather cools in our region:

Buyers jump back into the market, making looking for a home a priority. With the kids back in school, parents are able to look during the day without having to juggle swim lessons and camp pick-ups. While some families may want to wait until the end of the school year to make a move, many families are ready to transition during this season. Buyers who have been on “hold” due to vacations and trips to the beach are now committed to looking full-time.

Sellers concentrate on repairs, painting, and landscaping. Taking advantage of cooler temperatures and after-work daylight hours, sellers begin to focus on sprucing up their landscaping and the exterior of their homes.

Homes are priced realistically. Sellers who have their houses on the market in the fall are “ready to go” before the snow flies. Buyers, too, want to be settled in time for the December holidays.

For all of these reasons the “Fall market” continues to be one of our favorite times to help buyers and sellers. Many real estate agents tell you that “anytime” is a good time to buy or sell, but, is it? When it’s time for you to jump into the market be sure to contact us for an overview of the current market conditions.

“What? A Radon Test? I Have To Keep My Windows Closed? It’s August!”

apartment bed bedroom comfort

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Everyone looks for ways to cool off from the “dog days” of summer that settle upon Vermont in August. Whether it’s a trip to the Waterbury reservoir, a dip in a quarry, or a leisurely canoe ride down the Mad River, everyone has their own way to beat the heat. And, New Englanders know that it “cools off at night” so many of us forego air conditioning in the evening and throw open the sashes to enjoy summer evening breezes and fresh air.

If you’re selling your house this summer the heat and humidity pose another challenge – a radon test. When the buyer orders a home inspection as part of the contract they may add a radon test. The inspector instructs you to close up your house 24 hours prior to the radon inspection. Inevitably this will happen during a heat wave or during the hottest, most humid days of summer, called “dog days” as ancient Romans associated the steamy temperatures with the dog star, Sirius.

If you’re not ready to pack up and go camping prior to your radon inspection the here are some tips:

Get your Radon tested in January. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chose January as it’s Radon Awareness Month for a reason, having your house closed up in January usually is not a problem.

Contact the Vermont Department of Health to request a free kitTesting Your Home for Radon. The use of a long-term radon in air test kit is best because radon levels can change daily, weekly, and seasonally. We recommend that you test your home for 3 to 12 months (ideally including a heating season). Longer test periods ensure the most accurate measure of actual exposure. Free long-term radon in air test kits are available to Vermont residents. You can request one from the Radon Program by calling 800-439-8550 (toll-free in Vermont) or emailing radon@vermont.gov.

On the Weaver Team we are committed to help you prepare your home for sale and to help you throughout the process. Contact us for more tips and information, we are happy to help!